The new social media phenomenon Pinterest has seen an unprecedented rise over the last few months and, based on the numbers, 1 in 5 of the women reading this article are already using the service to collect photos and link to some of their favorite products. Daily users have increased by more than 145% since the start of 2012 and Pinterest is generating more referral traffic to websites than YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn combined (taken from this infographic).
Impressive numbers indeed, but there is one number that you’ll need to prepare yourself for if you plan on using Pinterest any further, one! That’s the number of uninvited guests that it takes to spoil the party and in the case of Pinterest, those uninvited guests are spammers. That’s right, your beloved Pinterest (well, mine too) is starting to deal with it’s first real challenge (other than growing so fast).
— SimplyZesty (@SimplyZesty) March 4, 2012
Based on reports that began to surface on Twitter last week (including the one shown above from SimplyZesty), some of the tricks shown below have been used on Pinterest and you’ll need to keep your eyes open if you want to avoid trouble. Coach, Starbucks and H&M gift card scams are just the tip of the iceberg. Users click on these links and are taken to bogus websites where they are asked for personal information. Somewhere along the process, spyware is installed on your machine and then the fun really begins.
Pinterest is doing their best to put an end to these shenanigans, but if there’s one thing we’ve learned about spammers over the years it’s that they find a way to adapt and they do it quickly.
New scams like this will continue to surface and probably remain a part of the Pinterest experience for some time. Don’t rely on others to protect you from the potential dangers. You’ll need to take matters into your own hands. The good folks over at Trend Micro have put together a Guide to Social Threats on Social Media that everyone should read, but here are a few tips to get you started:
- If it’s too good to be true, it probably is – don’t click!
- Be wary of clicking on links from unknown accounts – in the case of Pinterest, this includes images from unknown Pinterest users.
- Only befriend people you know.
- Never use the same password for multiple sites & make sure your passwords are strong.
- Use Web of Trust in your browser to protect you from malicious links.